It’s always a wonderful surprise when I throw together something at the last minute and it ends up being one of my new favorite dishes — that is the case with this simple pasta recipe. You can’t go wrong with the combination of tomatoes, basil, and cheese. However, it’s still a little too early in the year for a raw tomato sauce, so I made a very light pasta sauce with sautéed and slightly crushed cherry tomatoes.
Canned tomatoes could work, but the fresh cherries taste so sweetly delicious when cooked down into a velvety sauce. Since I had parmesan and pecorino in my fridge, I tossed them both into the sauce for more depth of flavor. The parmesan is more nutty than the pecorino, which is more salty than the parmesan. If you don’t have both, don’t worry, just use one or the other. This dish comes together quickly making it perfect for a vegetarian weeknight meal.
Pasta With Cherry Tomato Sauce
1 large handful (or 2 servings) of spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large red onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Red pepper flakes
2/3 pint of cherry tomatoes, larger tomatoes sliced into quarters, smaller tomatoes sliced in half
1/4 cup white wine
1 heaping tablespoon sun-dried tomato pesto
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
2 heaping tablespoons chopped basil
- Bring a large pot of water, seasoned heavily with salt, to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook one minute less than instructed on the outside of the pasta package. Do not drain.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the red onion and garlic and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Depending on how hot you prefer things, add 2-3 pinches of red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and press down on them with a wooden spoon to crush a little and release their juices. Cook stirring occasionally until the tomatoes are soft and tender and a thick sauce starts to form, about 12-15 minutes.
- Add the wine and the sun-dried tomatoes, using the wine to scrape up any browned bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan. Stir everything to combine well and cook until the wine is almost completely evaporated, 3-4 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked pasta to the pan with the tomatoes. Scoop 1/4 cup of the cooking water from the pasta pot and add to the sauce. Add more water if necessary to thin out the sauce.
- Add the majority of the cheese and the basil and stir everything together until each strand of pasta is coated in the sauce. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately with the remaining cheese sprinkled over the top for garnish.